Consults with Dr. J.J. Wendel/Dr. Melinda Haws/Dr. Chad Neal/ Dr. Patrick Wilson for Belt-Abdominoplasty

Hi! I'm very new to RealSelf but I have been...

Hi! I'm very new to RealSelf but I have been lurking for awhile--at least most of 2015. I am 35 yrs old and thus far I've lost 100 lbs through focusing on dieting initially, but most of my recent weight loss has been due to me making healthier choices and habits with food and incorporating exercise with weight lifting. I am 5'8" and my highest documented weight was 300lbs. I'm currently at 197 and would like to be 190lbs or less by my surgery date.

I did a bit of research for doctors in west Tennessee and decided on a consult with Dr. Wendel. His facility is very clean and up-to-date. His staff was friendly, albeit a bit rushed fut I guess that is to be expected first thing on the day after Labor Day. My wait time to see the doctor was an hour or maybe a little over an hour. Dr. Wendel was very friendly and immediately sat down. He made a lot of eye contact and had a very approachable smile. I know these are small details but the man may possibly be sawing me in half so I needed to get some good ju-ju vibes from him! He looked at me, pulled on all of my love pockets and loose skin and told me I would be an ideal candidate for a belt abdominoplasty. He then drew on some paper the details of the surgery and how the incisions would look. He showed me the benefits of having either a belt or regular abdominoplasty or tummy tuck. He DID NOT push any procedures on me, but said that if I wanted to address my upper body to wait at least 6 months after the lower body surgery to see what needs to be done. For sure, I thought he would say I need implants or a breast lift or arm lift, but he said I looked great as is (which is nice to hear---the man sees a lotta great looking boobs!).

Anyway, I like his confidence and calm demeanor, but of course I want to have other consults. Ladies, if you are paying $100 for a consult, please don't be shy to ask all and any of your questions. He probably talked with me for 10-15 minutes and was ready to move on, but he was willing to stay when I had more questions. He was friendly nevertheless. His staff was great at making you feel ok with taking the most horrible pictures you would ever have to take. (Side note: I forgot to ask for more pictures of the procedures I was interested in while I was there as I wanted to see if he worked on anyone who had a similar "pre"-body to what I have. I would also add that Beth who does billing and insurance was very very nice and made the effort to make sure your insurance company was informed.

Overall, a bit of a rush, but a pleasant consult overall.

Consult Updates I've had three other consults with other doctors that I will add at a later time, but for now here's photos of me at my highest weight and current weight.



Here's before and after weight loss photos

Review of Consult with Dr. Melinda Haws (Plastic Surgery Center of Nashville)

Ok, so I went to have a consult with Dr. Haws. I initially wanted to consult with Dr. Gingrass but she was not available the day that I needed. The office is near the hospital and it was a very clean and organized facility and the staff members were cordial. Sonya, her surgery coordinator was superb and was open to sharing her experience with plastic surgery. Dr Haws is a fantastic walking advertisement for plastic surgery and she dresses to show it! I only say that because she will admit to having some work done. So, she listened to me tell why I was there, took a quick glance at me and pulled and prodded some areas and felt I would be an ideal candidate for surgery and that I would definitely be bikini ready once she was through! That sounded miraculous...I just want to not look like the Michelin man under my spanx----bikini-wearing is like off in another galaxy somewhere! She did recommend an upper body lift and thigh liposuction. Her quote for the body lift with thigh lipo was ~ $18000. It was around $14500 without lipo. Sorry I'm not at home so I can't give you the exact number but this is pretty close. The one thing I did notice about her that differed from the other doctors is that she does not require an overnight stay for the body lift. Overall, I would definitely consider her for future procedures as I feel confident in her work based on her reviews and the research I have done. However, I know my caregivers would feel most at ease if I stayed overnight after the initial surgery.

Overall, the doctor was great. She definitely was quick and seemed to have a busy day ahead of her....kinda like how us ladies act when we can't find our keys before work. She spent the least amount of time with me, but again I would consider her for future surgeries. If I had any complaint at all it would be just that I didn't have enough time or interaction to really get a feel for her. I would recommend her practice though based on the overall experience.

Ugh.....having second thoughts. Lower body lift scheduled for January 4th.

So for the last few weeks I have slowly started to want to back out of this surgery. I was meaning to get on here and give my reviews for Dr. Wilson in Huntsville Alabama and Dr. Chad Nease (??) at the Plastic Surgery Specialist in Chattanooga. If someone wants feedback on them please let me know. I still may post a review just so one can find it if they do a search for them.

SOOOO.....I have my surgery scheduled on Monday January 4th with Dr. Wilson. I can go into all the details...but I want to get to the point of this review. Basically, of all the doctors I went to or talked to, he was the ONLY doctor who was concerned that I was coming from out of town, potential blood clots---basically he was the only one that voiced a concern with me traveling in for surgery. The others were like no worries--you may or may not stay a night in the hospital--all is good. He basically put me first...AND insisted that I stay close by for the 1st week. Since he is a little cheaper than the other doctors, I could budget to stay in a hotel in Huntsville for the 1st week with a recliner and the fam.

OK...I have to get this out because I'm really wanting to say no to this. I have paid the money in full but I'm just not feeling it. It's not the doctor or anything or even the money...IT'S THE SURGERY!!! Let me preface this by saying that I am an only child. I have my Mom and my stepdad. I have no kids. I have no husband. I have no pets. We are all we got. Now here I am about to have an optional 6 hour surgery when as far as I know I am perfectly healthy!!! They have been super supportive but I can sense the worry in their voices. I don't want to do this to them. They are my babies and vice versa. I've tried to talk myself into maybe just having a tummy tuck instead or a panniculectomy to just cut down on hours having surgery or recovery time which = less stress for parents. I've asked to push the surgery out a week or two, but I think that in my current mindset I can do that forever---except for that whole $12,000+ bill I just paid.

Let me just be honest with you ladies. I know that some may not agree or understand what I am about to say, but I have in the nicest terms "an eating disorder". That is such a sweet description---I am a damn coma-inducing binge eater. I have been for as far back as I can remember. Food was my boyfriend, my best friend, my parent, my comfort---a god in some sort of way. I realized that my relationship was food was unhealthy so I got a therapist and a nutritionist and went into a treatment program and even went to weight loss resorts and 12 step programs---it was that serious. I could see the effect it had had on my dad's side of the family. His children were all large and had to have weight loss surgery---I definitely could have qualified for it also. His grandmother was so large I heard that she was maybe 600 lbs at some point. I am named after her and lets just say we are probably kindred spirits though we never met. My mother and stepdad are the military type so I tried my best to whip myself into shape by exercise but eventually I realized that all the exercise in the world couldn't fix the way I was with food.

Not trying to depress anyone so let me just say that I got help (and am getting help) and was able to maintain my current weight of 195-196 for 6 months now--plus or minus 2 lbs or so. I had psyched myself up to try to get down to 190 by the surgery but that's not happening....still hovering at 195. What is freaking me out or scaring me is that it feels like I am losing control!! Whatever sanity I had gained in working my program and getting my life back from the crazy food addiction seems to just be melting away as the date approaches! I know we have the Holidays and company damn picnics and Christmas parties and Thanksgiving dinners and catered crap 24/7 at work...but dammit I thought for sure that "I GOT THIS"!! I mean I'm spending a lotta money and blowing vay-cay left and right as this does not qualify for "medical leave" ....and I'm struggling with this damn eating thing again. (Ya'll sorry for this cursing-----I'm gonna say 2 Hail Mary's and bring it back down a notch). Sorry about that. So yeah...I'm struggling again and I'm getting stressed and worrying and I'm fighting this thing tooth and nail to not gain weight and to not overeat and to keep my body in the best shape possible before surgery...but it's tough. Is there anybody out there on the other side of this screen that can relate???

If not that's cool. I needed to get this out and since nobody really knows about the surgery I can't really tell them. If I tell Mama she would say without hesitation---don't do it but I know she would prefer I didn't anyway.

So anyway....I think I'm gonna just sit here and let this painting dude on public television lull me into calmness right now. Dude is good--how can he make it look so easy!?? Thanks for letting me vent all of this. If I get it together, I'll post pics of my bellies in their grand opulent glory for you to see. Maybe someone can relate to this story or my before photos. That's motivation enough if I can just help someone.

With love and blessings people. Oh and Merry Christmas.

The BEFORE.......

As promised.....I guess we're family now! YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!!!! This is your disclaimer...there's no turning back!!!!

One more for the road....

You know being in this body you don't really see your progress or how your body has changed. I really see myself at least 20 lbs bigger than I actually am. I see so much fat that I need to tone...but this video without a doubt shows a ton of skin that I couldn't tone up in a million years. This is my temple though...and despite it's flaws and flab...I'm blessed by it. It treats me much better than I deserve after years of neglect.

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Less that 48 hours to go!! Won't be missing any of this!!! Fitted clothes!!! No more Spanx collection!! Working out minus the drag!! HALLELUJAH! I put in my last hardcore kickboxing workout today and between battling with the workout pants to keep them up over the leotard I use to control my bellies and keeping the shirt tucked down so that I can plank jack without showing the goodies....too much!!!

Today, I purchased my baggy pajama pants, sweatshirts and sweatpants, puppy pads for accidents, Hibiclens, Miralax and a few other items. My doctor had a very short list of what I needed to buy beforehand...I'm not sure if that's a good thing or not. Most ladies have 10+ items or so that they purchase..arnica, vitamins, toilet riser-thingie, creams, pineapple juice, etc....I hope I have enough! I also have a recliner that I will have with me in the hotel while I recover for the first week with my family. Dr. Wilson says that I will get more supplies and instructions my first night in the hospital. I have to shower while in the hospital which surprised me because I thought most women wait many days before they can shower. Anyway, I don't have much to add prep-wise, but I hope to go into more detail of the recovery process. I've never had kids, broke bones, passed a kidney stone, etc I won't really have a frame of reference to compare the pain to. Anyway, I'll try to update as soon as I can.

I'm out!

will post more later. Just wanted to let you know I made it to the flat side! Thanks for all the well wishes!

Quick pics

I'm pretty swollen right now, but I can feel the difference. You know I used to rest my plate on my stomach, and now when I rest against my stomach it caves in!! My body actually does!! It's like I'm having to adjust to a whole new body.

1st Post-Op Review appt yesterday with the doctor went great. I had the two drains from my back removed. The incision and the belly button is healing and looks good per the doctor. Overall, everything looks good and I may possibly get to remove the other two drains at my Tuesday appointment.

So...let's get to surgery day.

PRE-OP--My surgery was scheduled for 7:30am I believe on Friday. Let me preface this by saying that the entire hospital staff was on it! I have never been to any doctor's office or hospital where I have felt so attended to or cared for. Ok, so my vitals were taken and I met with the anesthesiologist. Dr. Wilson came in and took his time to do a thorough mark up on my body--I'm sure he spent 20-30 minutes (things are a bit of a blur to me) drawing on me and answering my questions. He was very friendly and kept assuring me that things would be fine. He did a good job calming me down before the surgery as I was still nervous/anxious. He did a great job putting me at ease. I later moved to the operating room where I stood up and the nurses cleaned me with a cold/brown solution and that's all I really remember.
SURGERY: The doctor took his time as I later learned he took almost 7 hours on the surgery itself. The surgery included lipo of my outer thighs also. I got a 3 day numbing shot in my stomach for pain. The doctor removed 10 lbs of skin.
POST-SURGERY: The catheter was removed after surgery and I was sent to my room to recover. I was very very talkative from what I was told! I had very little pain---on a scale of 1-10, I would say I was a 3. That night I had to go walk the halls with the nurses---doctor's orders. The next day, I was given a shower at the hospital, a blood thinner shot, a pain pill and was given all of my post-op instructions. The doctor stopped by to see me on his way to his office. Again, he looked at all of my incisions, answered my questions and continued to put me at ease. That day my pain level increased to a 5 but that was also because my menstrual cycle started. I took two pain pills (oxycodone) that day. My take home meds were a blood thinner shot to take for 5 days total, a stool softener to take twice a day, and oxy for pain (1-2 pills every 4-6 hours). I've never taken more than 2 pills any day since the surgery. I went to the bathroom 3 days after the surgery and that was a pretty painless procedure thanks to the softener. The most annoying pain thus far has been something rubbing or accidentally pulling on the drains. Oh, I forgot to add that the day after surgery I was very dizzy and lightheaded and nauseous which I was told is common after the general anesthesia starts to wear off. The pain was very very manageable in my opinion.

The hardest thing for me has been using the rest room and I would definitely recommend that you have good arm and leg strength to move you around after surgery. It took me two days to be able to fully sit on the toilet. Using gauze as a barrier between my drains/incision and the cat suit helps a lot. It was also difficult to get myself out of the suit before the urge to go was gone! Drink tons of water and I would routinely check my temp and use a spirometer to make sure your breathing is improving and preventing pneumonia.
Oh the drain removal wasn't bad at all. I was told to cough repeatedly while he removed them and I really didn't feel anything. Anyway, that's all I remember at the moment but feel free to ask questions if you have any.

Doctor brag: After surgery, Dr. Wilson pulled my parents into a separate room to give them an update on how the surgery went. He sat down and talked with them about the surgery and answered any questions that they may have. For my Mom to say that the doctor had good bedside manners says a lot....she has high expectations of doctors!! I will say that Dr. Wilson has been on it. If I had a question or comment for him while he was in surgery, he made sure someone got back to me pronto. I never felt that I was a burden in that aspect.

MY BRAG: The doctor said that it was obvious that I worked out by my 6-pack!!! I knew something sexy was lurking under here!! That's what I'm talking about!! All this gym hopping and personal training paid off even though I can't see the results now!! LOL! Doctor said he rarely sees that for someone having my procedure!! I am so feelin' myself right now!!! :)

10 Days Post

Still recovering well. I have one drain remaining. I'm still hunched over...I could straighten myself out but I'm going with what feels best for my body. I still have a bit of swelling, but some of the puffiness around my navel will be present until I start to lose more weight. The top roll under my bra line remains but can be removed later if I choose to pursue an upper body lift. I was aware of this before my surgery and was told that this would be the case by more than one surgeon. Overall, I'm happy with my figure without the pannus and I'm trying to focus on being healthy and not comparing myself to everyone else's progress on here---which I have been obsessed with doing thus far! I will update when I can or when some sort of milestone has been reached in my recovery. You know what I am REALLY REALLY REALLY looking to......underwear shopping!!!!! Seriously....does anyone else share this enthusiasm!!?? I can't wait!!! Anyway, please feel free to contact if you have any questions! Best of luck on your journey!

16 days post

Will update more after next doc appt

More photos

3 weeks

Back at work this week. Swell hell is here. After all of that exercising I'm surprised how winded I get now. I am learning to walk in spurts and spend more time at my desk in between those walks. I started rubbing cocoa butter on my scars yesterday. I had some noticeable swelling in my right thigh for almost a week in the lipo area. The doctor says it looks ok. I was supposed to switch to a smaller garment this week but the full length garment in my size wasn't available. ???? I have been wearing my binder underneath my cat suit to compensate (one way to make sure you eat less!!). I will update more on what to buy if you are having surgery with Dr. Wilson at HW&C Hospital--- they provide you a lot of what you need.

Before and After Photos got deleted

Quick update photos from 4 weeks and 6 weeks.

I will update with more later after my next appt.

Photos of sagging skin after surgery...

Morning selfers! I thought I'd show how things look when I bend over. The doc didn't do a fleur de lis cut which i'm ok with, but this is what you may expect if you don't get that cut. My swelling is really minimal this morning but it usually hangs a bit more in the evening and looks more noticeable. I will eventually post a comparison of my swelling in the morning and then in the afternoon.
Huntsville Plastic Surgeon

Dr. Wilson and his staff are professional and incredibly patient with you. The doctor makes time to completely explain the procedure with you and to even sit down and draw out the procedure for you. Whenever I've had a question or concern, the staff got back to me ASAP both before and even after my story. The doctor definitely listens to your concerns and puts your health and safety at the top of his priority list. I'll update my review as my recovery progresses.

5 out of 5 stars Overall rating
5 out of 5 stars Doctor's bedside manner
5 out of 5 stars Answered my questions
5 out of 5 stars After care follow-up
5 out of 5 stars Time spent with me
5 out of 5 stars Phone or email responsiveness
5 out of 5 stars Staff professionalism & courtesy
5 out of 5 stars Payment process
5 out of 5 stars Wait times
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